Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Helping our patients with health coaching

Many years ago, I was introduced to health coaching strategies. I think health coaching is very useful in primary care but are often under-utilized in my opinion. I would like to encourage all Registrars on here in particular, to do some form of health coaching training early in your professional life. It will bring you much more work satisfaction in my opinion.


1. Much of General Practice is about chronic health, and chronic health requires not only knowledge and skills to change, but also ongoing motivation to act consistently towards positive change. This will require some form of health coaching.

2. Health coaching triggers less resistance from the patient than advice giving. It’s less frustrating.

3. Advice giving may intrinsically set up an expectation that the patient should follow it and if they don’t, frustration may show up for both parties. 

4. Accurate advice giving requires factoring in concise facts, evidence, feelings, context, values and knowledge of the patients, and at times, values and knowledge of their families/“tribe” as well. This is obviously very difficult, if not impossible to get completely right. Health coaching may be a better alternative in this regard.

5. Health coaching is more empowering for the patient.

6. Advice giving puts most of the responsibilities on the Doctor. This is stressful. Health coaching puts the responsibilities on both the Doctor and patient. It’s a shared burden. It promotes togetherness and collaboration. It’s much less stressful.

7. Health coaching goes hand in hand with counseling/psychotherapy. It complements each other well to achieve better physical, emotional and social/relational health. 

With the above in mind, health coaching can make primary care much more enjoyable and less frustrating.

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